LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Booth's Blog: Get ready to meet The Tall Man...
By Emily Booth, Thursday 13th July 2017
Most horror fans will already know this elusive yet enigmatic man; villain of one of the strangest, most surreal and nightmarish horror movies in the stratosphere. If not, you've missed out (and, ummm, where were you in the '80s?) Not to fear though, because Horror Channel proudly has the network premiere of the one and only Phantasm this coming Saturday. Throw logic and plot out of the window for this one and just get swept up in its dreamlike quality.
The film came out in 1979 and has since snowballed into a huge cult favourite spanning 5 decades, with 5 films, countless comics, fan sites and merchandise. The word 'phantasm' actually means 'something that is seen or imagined but is not real', and it is Don Coscarelli's imagination that we need to thank here. Just 23 years old at the time Phantasm was made on a tiny budget with big ideas, many of the movie-making decisions were instinctive, says Coscarelli; they happened off the cuff, on set.
Recently orphaned Jody (Bill Thornbury) and his younger brother Mike (Michael Baldwin) set up home in a new town where strange things have begun to occur. It all leads to the local mortuary and its creepy, otherworldly undertaker known as the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). Corpses are going missing, and when Mike witnesses this first-hand, he decides to dig a little deeper, soon finding himself in the bowels of a very mysterious mortuary. For the Tall Man is indeed more than just 'otherworldly'. He has an army of killer dwarves (actually re-animated shrunken versions of the corpses we mentioned earlier) and an arsenal of lethal silver spheres designed to drill into your skull to collect your brain matter. Oh and the basement of the mortuary actually disguises a portal to another planet, I think... Weird enough for ya?
On one level, Phantasm is a strange and surreal trip into the imagination, but on a deeper level, the film's central themes are death, grieving, and how a child's mind might fracture when coping with a death in the family. Angus Scrimm is literally the harbinger of death here (he died around the same time as David Bowie in January 2016) and was perfectly cast with his crooked frown and 'too small suits', providing the already 6 ft 4 actor an even greater sense of menace. It's no surprise he ranks as one of the most popular horror villains of all time.
Fans of '80s electronica and Italian horror movie soundtracks will also be in seventh heaven with a creepy synthy soundtrack taking its cue from the aforementioned influences, which in turn no doubt inspired the amazing soundtrack for '80s revival horror series "Stranger Things". You can't help but get sucked in.
Phantasm enjoys its network premiere on Horror this Saturday 15th July at 11pm.
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